Top Alternatives to Hardwood Flooring

Wood flooring is considered the most cozy, elegant type of flooring out there. Of this type, hardwood flooring is easily the king. Despite its expensive price tag, vulnerability to scratches and moisture, and required maintenance, many still go for this flooring in pursuit of a dream home.

The honest reality is that hardwood isn’t ideal if you have a big family and/or indoor pets who can contribute to the wear and tear of your home. In light of that, you must be game for sanding or refinishing every few years.

Is the perfect look worth the budget and all the trouble? Maybe not. So, here’s where the alternatives come in.

Alternatives to Hardwood Flooring

Thankfully, there are other types of flooring that achieve the same look of hardwood—without all the cons. Most importantly, these alternatives come at a lower cost and are even more durable and easier to clean than wood. Interested? Then keep reading, for here are the four top alternatives to hardwood flooring.

Wood Tile Flooring

Despite its name, wood tile flooring isn’t exactly made of wood. It looks remarkably like it, though; hence, its popularity over the last decade or so.

Made of either porcelain or ceramic, it’s infinitely less expensive than hardwood, and more durable and environmentally sustainable to boot. Because it’s also impervious to moisture, wood tiling best suits rooms where humidity can be a problem, like bathrooms or kitchens.

There are downsides, however. You have to make sure that the grout lines are thin for the wood tiling to look like hardwood, otherwise it’s obviously an alternative. This means it must be installed by someone with flooring know-how, and not just any random Joe.

Wood tiles also crack and chip easily when anything heavy is dropped on it. The good thing is, compared to hardwood, it will be easier and less expensive to replace.

Vinyl Wood Flooring

Aside from cheaper cost, higher durability, and easier maintenance, vinyl is highly recommended for its hardwood look. Even though it’s a hundred percent plastic, it’s known for textured grain patterns that look like wood and is quite resistant to moisture.

What it offers that wood tiling doesn’t, though, is the softness that makes walking on the floor easier on the feet. It also doesn’t crack when heavy things are dropped on it. Also, it is overall much quieter under any footsteps.

The downside is, it has a high VOC content, which is a no-no if you’re housing small children or chemically sensitive people. It’s also prone to scratches and is known to come in limited colors.

But compared to the other alternatives, it’s for sure the easiest to clean.

Engineered Wood Flooring

Engineered wood is special in that it’s made of multiple layers of plywood, with a thin slice of real wood right on top. It is definitely much cheaper than hardwood and, if well cared for, could last for around twenty years.

Still, it doesn’t promise the generations-long life of hardwood. In fact, it can only be sanded down at most two times in the product’s life, or else, the top layer wears away. Longevity is not its strong suit.

Much like hardwood flooring, engineered wood flooring requires meticulous cleaning, so it might not be as easy to have as wood tiles or vinyl. It boasts of resistance to moisture, however, that gives it an edge over the more-organic hardwood.

Laminate Wood Flooring

Recently, the most popular alternative to hardwood flooring is laminate wood. It looks just like hardwood, both in looks and in feeling underfoot, earning the positive reputation it enjoys today.

Just like engineered wood, laminate is made of multiple layers. However, instead of plywood, particleboard wood is used, and at the top is a sealed photographic layer. A common option for home remodels, its availability in various styles, textures, and colors, and faithful resemblance to hardwood is quite hard to beat.

Laminate wood is infinitely more durable than hardwood, although it can’t be sanded down once it’s damaged. Most people place laminate wood in high-traffic rooms like kitchens, bathrooms, and hallways.

Sure, it’s not as water-resistant as wood tiles, but it’s way better than hardwood itself, and it’s easy to install, thanks to the many installation options available to laminate wood. DIY individuals will be able to install this themselves.

Unlike the other alternatives, its price range is quite wide, from cost effective prices to high-end prices. This is mostly because one gets what is paid for in terms of appearance. The more expensive laminate wood is what looks most like hardwood, while the cheaper ones aren’t as convincing.

Therefore, one must remember that if it’s for a long-term situation, the low-range laminate wood just won’t cut it. It would be better to invest in the high-end priced ones, which will still be cheaper than hardwood itself.

About Salman Zafar

Salman Zafar is the Founder of EcoMENA, and an international consultant, advisor, ecopreneur and journalist with expertise in waste management, waste-to-energy, renewable energy, environment protection and sustainable development. His geographical areas of focus include Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe. Salman has successfully accomplished a wide range of projects in the areas of biomass energy, biogas, waste-to-energy, recycling and waste management. He has participated in numerous conferences and workshops as chairman, session chair, keynote speaker and panelist. Salman is the Editor-in-Chief of EcoMENA, and is a professional environmental writer with more than 300 popular articles to his credit. He is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on renewable energy, waste management and environmental sustainability in different parts of the world. Salman Zafar can be reached at salman@ecomena.org or salman@bioenergyconsult.com
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